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Title: From eugenics to therapeutics science and the social shaping of gene therapy.
Author: Martin, Paul A.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis will examine the development of a new medical technology, gene therapy, in the USA and use this study of a science-based innovation to shed light on how science becomes technology. Gene therapy is the application of gene transfer techniques to the treatment of human diseases. When it was first proposed in the early 1960s gene therapy was closely associated with eugenics and ideas of human genetic engineering aimed at improving future generations and correcting genetic 'defects'. Its early development was highly controversial, provoking organised opposition, and commanded little clinical or commercial interest. However, by 1996 gene therapy had widespread support, was seen as a new form of drug therapy, and was being tested for the treatment of cancer and other acquired diseases in over 160 clinical trials. In addition, some 20 dedicated gene and cell therapy firms had been established to commercially develop the technology in the USA, with a market value of over $1 billion. How did this transformation in the social meaning, clinical application, and commercial exploitation of the technology occur? What role did science play in this process? Drawing on recent work in the new sociology of technology it will be argued that the move from science to technology can be understood in terms of two linked processes, the construction of stable socio-technical networks and the social shaping of technology. In particular, the thesis will analyse how basic research was organised so that it became 'do-able', how the social acceptability of the technology was negotiated, how gene therapy was integrated into experimental clinical practice and, finally, how it was commercially developed. Particular attention will be paid to the creation of markets for gene therapy and the configuration of potential products. The thesis will conclude by identifying the key social and technical processes involved in the transition from science to technology, and outlining a conceptual framework for a more complete understanding of the early innovation process
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology Sociology Human services Molecular biology Cytology Genetics